Monaco beats Nice 1-0 in France

PARIS (AP) Dimitar Berbatov helped Monaco secure a Champions League spot by scoring an audacious lob in a 1-0 win over Nice in the French league on Sunday.

Berbatov chipped goalkeeper David Ospina from a tight angle in the fifth minute and the hosts came close to doubling their lead when Valere Germain struck the post in the 12th.

Mounir Obbadi preserved the victory by clearing a rebound off the line after goalkeeper Danijel Subasic saved a header from Nice centerback Mathieu Bodmer in the 68th.

”We showed character,” Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri said. ”It’s not always possible to win 2-0 or 3-0. But the most important thing is to win the derby and show how strong and compact the team is under pressure.”

Promoted a year ago, Monaco consolidated second place in the league and moved within seven points of leader Paris Saint-Germain, which has a game in hand.

The second-place team qualifies directly for the group stage of the Champions League while the side finishing third enters the preliminary round of the lucrative European competition.

Elsewhere, third-place Lille drew 0-0 with an uninspired Marseille to keep a seven-point lead over Saint-Etienne.

Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda palmed away a header from fullback Pape Souare in the opening minute, and Lille should have been awarded a penalty in the 17th when Marseille defender Nicolas Nkoulou tripped Souare but the referee did not blow the whistle.

”We could have hoped for a better result with more technical accuracy,” Lille captain Rio Mavuba said. ”It’s a good point taken here.”

Marseille was booed off the pitch and stayed in sixth place, two points behind Lyon.

Ajaccio was relegated after losing 2-1 at mid-table Bastia in the Corsican derby. Ajaccio striker Aboubacar Camara opened the scoring in the fourth minute before Bastia winger Florian Raspentino leveled with a header in the 32nd. Sebastien Squillaci scored the winner by converting a rebound in the 88th.

”In their heads, the players knew perfectly well that the outcome was inevitable although it was postponed week after week,” Ajaccio coach Christian Bracconi said.

Guingamp is under the threat of relegation after a 5-1 defeat at Bordeaux. Mali international Cheick Diabate scored a hat trick in a 17-minute span to give the hosts a 3-0 lead. Guingamp midfielder Moustapha Diallo pulled one back in the 29th. But Bordeaux forward Jussie and Diego Rolan put the result beyond doubt in the second half.

Sochaux won 1-0 at Reims to keep its safety hopes alive by pulling within two points of 17th-place Guingamp. Sebastien Corchia volleyed home a cross from Julien Faussurier in the 41st.

Valenciennes’ hopes of avoiding relegation took a hit with a 6-2 loss to Nantes. Serge Gakpe netted twice to give the visitors a 4-0 lead in the 54th. Valenciennes trails Guingamp by six points.

Lorient striker Vincent Aboubakar scored twice in stoppage time to salvage a 4-4 draw with 10-man Montpellier. Arguably the most improved player in the league this season, Aboubakar raised his tally to 16 league goals.

Montpellier goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren was sent off in the 28th for fouling Jeremie Aliadiere, who converted the subsequent penalty to equalize at 1-1. Despite its numerical disadvantage, Montpellier took a 4-1 lead with goals from Mbaye Niang, Jean Deza and Remy Cabella in the second half.

On Friday, Saint-Etienne drew 0-0 with Rennes.

On Saturday, PSG beat Lyon 2-1 to win the League Cup. As a result, their league games were postponed to Wednesday, when PSG will host Evian and Lyon will visit Toulouse.